Two passengers aboard a Carnival cruise ship swiped a pair of art pieces valued at nearly $13,000, but a search warrant has successfully recovered both small sculptures. While the passengers have not yet been charged with the theft, further legal action could be taken.
High-stakes art heists are normally the focus of mystery novels or dramatic films, but a real-life theft took place aboard a Carnival cruise ship just weeks ago.
Two passengers aboard Carnival Legend in late September on a sailing from Baltimore to Bermuda allegedly stole two sculptures from the art gallery, removing them from the ship without authorization. The individuals did not bid in an onboard art auction or otherwise purchase the artwork.
Court documents for a search warrant were filed on Tuesday, October 31, 2023 in federal court in Baltimore, Maryland. With that warrant, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted an appropriate search and recovered the missing sculptures.
According to ABC News, security footage from the cruise ship was instrumental in recognizing the theft and identifying the individuals involved, a man and a woman. One of the ship’s onboard art auctioneers had noticed the sculptures were missing on Sunday, October 1, the day after the ship had returned from its previous sailing.
Security footage was reviewed and showed two individuals enter the ship’s art gallery empty-handed on September 29 at approximately 2 a.m., then leave several minutes later carrying items “consistent in appearance with the missing sculptures,” according to the filed court documents.
The individuals were then identified, and one person’s appearance was correlated with a recent social media account photo that seemed to show the same distinctive attire as seen in the surveillance footage.
Though the sculptures have been recovered, the two individuals’ names have not been released because federal charges of theft and transportation of stolen goods may yet be filed.
Cruise ships have a wide range of artwork onboard, ranging from stunning paintings and prints to sculptures of all sizes and styles. The two sculptures that were stolen are both acrylic pieces.
One is by artist Robert Wyland depicting two sea turtles facing one another, titled “Kiss the Sea” with wave-like formations at the base. The limited edition piece, crafted in 2019, measures 13 5/8″ by 14 3/8″ by 4 1/4″, and has Wyland’s hand-engraved signature. Wyland has done several similar pieces depicting dolphins, whales, and even mermaids. Court documents set the value of the piece at $6,200.
Wyland’s artwork is especially familiar to cruise travelers, as the artist created the hull art for Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Bliss with a similar ocean life motif.
The second stolen – now recovered – piece is by artist Marcus Glenn and is titled “Tappin’ the Keys for Love.” Similar in materials to Wyland’s sculpture, this piece shows a man playing a piano keyboard with a red heart in the background. Music motifs are common in Glenn’s work, and this piece is valued at $6,600.
Art auctions onboard all Carnival cruise ships are conducted by Park West Gallery. Paintings, sculptures, lithographs, autographed items, and other special pieces are often included, though the collections vary on different ships and different sailings. Collections may also be curated to the sailing region to generate even more interest, such as works depicting Alaska on Alaska cruises.
In addition to Carnival Cruise Line, Park West Gallery also handles art auctions on more than 90 ships worldwide, including aboard Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, and Princess Cruises.
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